Ian  S.  Bott

Writer and artist


Behaaglijk Cozy, snug.

Big Red The local name for the red giant star that Elysium orbits.

Centipede Official term for segmented ground vehicle, also known as caterpillar, crawler, ground train. Nobody on Elysium ever uses the term. It’s only something that an ignorant outsider would say.

Char A strong tea-like brew.

City One of Elysium’s eighteen permanently-occupied equatorial bases.

Clan An extended network of families with a common ancestry, typically containing a few hundred to a thousand individuals. Clans live together, usually occupying a single habitat dome. The clan looks after domestic and childcare arrangements for its members.

Colonial agreement A fairly standardized contract between a colony and its founding corporation. Establishing a new colony is a massive financial undertaking and risk. The intent of the colonial agreement is to protect the corporation’s interests to recoup their investment, while obliging the corporation to look after its colonists. In practice, if a colony turns out to be profitable, the corporation will try to bend the terms of the colonial agreement to retain exclusive access to its revenue stream for as long as possible.

Core knotwood Extremely dense and hard material, good for rigid applications such as boxes and casings, and household items.

Corewood General purpose building material, obtained from the heart of Sponge’s vertical pillars.

Crawler Common term for the large vehicles used on Sponge.

Curate A senior member of the planning guild.

Debeel Stupid, useless. Usually applied to abstract terms such as thoughts or ideas.

Elysium Official name for the planet on which the story takes place. Nobody locally calls it that.

Elysium pink A highly prized pigment whose crystal structure refracts and intensifies light to produce an unnaturally deep pink hue.

ENCOA Earth Nations Committee for Offworld Affairs, a branch of the United Earth Nations that provides the legal framework for extending basic laws beyond Earth’s boundaries, and provides courts for resolving interplanetary disputes and enforcing contracts.

Estate The most treasured items in a person’s or family’s possession. Most adults spend time hand-crafting items to add to their estate. Items are valued for craftsmanship, artistry, and utility. Traditional items might include: rugs and blankets, fine clothing for indoor wear, hand-carved sets of table or cookware, hand-carved boxes and containers.

Flax A general term for one of the many varieties of fibrous padding and connective tissue with varying fiber qualities - length, thickness, tensile strength, roughness. Flax can be processed into fabric, flexible sheets, as well as rigid boards and beams.

Futzed Broken.

Heerlijk Lovely, delightful.

Hereditary indenture The concept that debts or obligations can be passed down from one generation to the next. In most legal systems, descendants cannot find themselves involuntarily responsible for their relatives’ debts, but colonial agreements are an exceptional case. Colonization of space is, to all intents and purposes, a one-way trip, so the descendants of the original colonists find themselves bound by a debt they had no part in agreeing to.

Heron Baywater The corporation that founded the colony on Elysium. Known locally as simply The Company.

Hitching truck A small single-seat vehicle used to maneuver crawler cars into position for hitching and unhitching. The truck mounts a vertical hydraulic ram that can support the weight of a car. The truck’s drive computer hooks into the car’s yoop and mimics the controls of a crawler’s drive cab, moving the car around under its own power.

Inner rimwood One of the main constituents of Sponge structural veins. Extremely light and strong with a natural elasticity that makes it ideal for structural members which need to flex to bear the brunt of autumn storms. Needs curing through at least two winters after harvesting before it is stable enough to be worked and used.

Jorvick Largest equatorial city on Elysium, and the planet’s de-facto capital. Population 180,000.

Kak A general expletive, equivalent to “crap” or “shit”.

Karking Adjective version of kak. Equivalent to “bloody”.

Lagrange point Orbital points where the gravitational forces of two large bodies cancel out. The L2 point in the Big Red/Elysium system lies in direct line beyond the planet away from the sun. Although the L2 point is unstable, a ship can “park” there in the shelter of the planet with minimal expenditure of energy.

Landline A communications network of physical cables linking towns and cities. Most of the landline network has been strung through stable air channels in Sponge’s structural ribs to protect it from weather damage.

Laverne Second largest equatorial city on Elysium. Population 140,000.

Longship Manned starship powered in-system by a Bussard ramjet, and containing the means to generate an artificial wormhole for interstellar transit. Because the energy needed to open a wormhole increases dramatically with diameter, ships are built long and narrow. Longship designs typically keep within forty meters diameter but often exceed a kilometer in length.

Meneer Male salutation, similar to “Mister” but very formal.

Nutloos Useless. Usually applied to a tangible item.

Padre A mid-level member of the planning guild.

Polyglass Tough shatterproof clear polymer.

Sanctum A person’s or family’s own private space, identified by a formal insignia. In Elysium society there is an almost unbreakable taboo against violating a designated personal space.

Serendipity Harvest town. Serendipity North sits at latitude 29 degrees north. Population 12,000.

Skies above/Blazing skies Exclamation of surprise or horror.

Sponge Local name for the planetwide super-organism that covers roughly half of Elysium’s surface. In local parlance, Sponge is also used loosely to refer to the world as a whole.

Stiig Untrustworthy (an extremely strong curse).

Telltale A standard panel at an airlock door. It shows the status of the airlock and the atmosphere beyond.

Thank the skies Expression of relief or gratitude.

Tiger Juvenile expression for being violently sick.

Town One of the mid-latitude harvesting bases. Towns are only inhabited during the daylight seasons, and are winterized and abandoned through the winter period. Although there is not an exact match in all cases, most towns in one hemisphere are twinned with a town of the same name in the other.

Train A crawler. More properly, while “crawler” describes the kind of vehicle in general, “train” is typically used in reference to a specific example of a crawler at a point in time.

Trek The semi-annual migration across the equator from the autumn to the spring hemisphere.

Vreemde Foreigner or foreign, used to refer to anyone off-planet, usually in a disparaging way.

Way station A series of parallel windbreaks anchored to a structural rib, to provide shelter to crawlers. Way stations are strung out along routes between towns and cities, at intervals representing an easy day’s travel.

Wormhole transit Means of interstellar travel. The main physical constraint on a wormhole’s size is the energy needed to stabilize the opening, which increases exponentially with diameter. Once open, the length is virtually unlimited. However, wormhole transit places extreme stresses on the human mind, mitigated by a combination of drugs. The maximum safe range of a single wormhole transit is about fifty light years.

Yoop Short for Universal Power Unit. The wheeled modules that carry cars slung between them to make up a train.